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Hardship LevelA (least hardship)

Family TypeFamily

Family TypeFamily

Residential location (if applicable)


Staff Member / Affiliate TypeProfessional

ReasonRegular > Regular Assignment
Remote work acceptedNo

Target Start Date2024-04-01

Job Posting End DateFebruary 14, 2024

Standard Job Description

Communications Officer

Organizational Setting and Work Relationships
In line with its Global Communications Strategy, UNHCR requires skilled communications professionals to conceive and execute a range of activities that help us lead the narrative on forced displacement, generate empathy and mobilize action. This body of work spans communications strategy and coordination, news and media relations, multimedia content production, social media engagement, Goodwill Ambassadors and other influencers, public outreach and campaigns, fundraising, analytics and brand.
UNHCR's Communications Officers need to cultivate a keen understanding of our target audiences' including an... up-to-the-minute grasp of the methods and tone of voice that resonate deeply, win trust and spark quality engagement. They must be vigilant about editorial and journalistic standards, attentive to protection concerns and political sensitivities, and focused on communicating successfully with key demographics. These audiences will vary by location, language and platform, among other factors, as well as whether the aim is to inform, advocate or raise funds.
Communications Officers' functions, working relationships and skills specializations differ depending on language, location, grade, and whether they sit within a country operation, a regional bureau or the Global Communications Service. UNHCR's primary target audiences include public, media and policymakers, while our main partners and influencers include peers and private sector, trusted figures and our own workforce. Some communicators will focus mainly on news and media relations, for example, while others will produce multimedia content, manage social media accounts or lead advocacy campaigns. Forging partnerships with media outlets that reach target audiences is a central role for all Communications Officers.
All Communications Officers are expected to work strategically in support of UNHCR's operational and communications objectives for their geographic area of responsibility (AoR) as well as global priorities. Communications approaches should reflect our core values as an organization that is caring, trustworthy, proactive, outcome-focused and responsive. This will reinforce UNHCR's role as the lead agency that protects refugees, internally displaced and stateless people and mobilizes action to provide solutions.

All UNHCR staff members are accountable to perform their duties as reflected in their job description. They do so within their delegated authorities, in line with the regulatory framework of UNHCR which includes the UN Charter, UN Staff Regulations and Rules, UNHCR Policies and Administrative Instructions as well as relevant accountability frameworks. In addition, staff members are required to discharge their responsibilities in a manner consistent with the core, functional, cross-functional and managerial competencies and UNHCR's core values of professionalism, integrity and respect for diversity.

- Support the development and implementation of communications strategies for countries, situations and special projects; identify thematic priorities and target audiences to meet UNHCR's global communications objectives.
- Monitor news and popular trends to insert UNHCR's messaging into ongoing conversations; identify key moments for proactive communications.
- Forge strategic partnerships with individuals and organizations who can help produce and promote UNHCR content, activities and messaging as well as provide research insights to improve communications; promote the work of engaged businesses and civil society actors.
- Contribute to development of news-driven and authoritative content to lead the narrative on forced displacement and show UNHCR's impact (e.g. interviews, press releases, flagship reports, speeches), create emotive storytelling to generate empathy (e.g. stories, multimedia content) and mobilize action by signposting concrete steps people can take to help refugees (e.g. digital diplomacy, action-driven campaigns, fundraising).
- Ensure content created reaches maximum impact by developing strategies for distribution from the outset, boosting the visibility of our content on relevant UNHCR channels and placing it on external channels.
- Closely monitor the implementation of communications projects and adjust accordingly. Benchmark the results of communications projects against set success indicators; build on communications successes.

Additional duties for news and media roles:
- Develop and implement communications strategies, campaigns, events and other initiatives in support of UNHCR's strategic objectives, including its need for leading share of voice on refugee and related matters, and ensure coverage of refugee situations in their country or region in global and domestic media.
- Research, prepare, fact-check, edit and produce professional media and communications materials for target audiences and ensure their timely dissemination via UNHCR's communications channels, ensuring highest quality standards.
- Draft media releases, statements and media briefing notes, and secure clearances, working in conjunction with relevant focal points and keeping sensitive to needs of both internal and external audiences.
- Act as a spokesperson for UNHCR, organizing press events, handling interviews requests and providing responses to requests from media relating to UNHCR and its work.
- Engage with journalists and public audiences via social media channels.
- Regularly provide ideas for communications initiatives and considered professional communications advice to senior staff of UNHCR.
- Undertake missions and field trips with media and other official visitors in support of UNHCR and its work.
- Actively maintain media relations for UNHCR, ensuring that media (and other important external stakeholders, such as governments, embassies, NGOs etc.) are briefed regularly on issues of importance to UNHCR, and have access to information and UNHCR expertise.
- Prepare and manage communications budgets.
- Ensure alignment with UNHCR's global branding and messaging.
- Continually maintain and upgrade communications skills, keeping abreast of emerging platforms and tools, and systematically reviewing media impact results and other measurement tools for learning purposes.

Additional duties for news and media roles within the Global Communications Service
- Oversee coordination of communications work for their designated regions and thematic issues, working closely with communications staff in bureaux and country offices and in collaboration with the senior communications officers/advisers in that region.
- Manage a wide network of relationships at all levels across bureaux, divisions and offices (including the Executive Office) to ensure timely internal information sharing as a foundation for grounded communications, and to build consensus around communications proposals.
- Maintain close involvement in communications recruitment and training needs for assigned regions, keeping in mind UNHCR's goals of employing and retaining the world's leading humanitarian communications expertise.

Additional duties for news and media roles within Country Offices
- Act as the primary interface on communications matters between their country office and the Global Communications Service.
- Act as the lead for crisis communications work for their country, alerting the GCS/News & Media Section's crisis communications lead to risk issues and ensuring close coordination.

Additional duties for news and media roles within Regional Bureaux
- Regularly provide ideas for communications initiatives and considered professional communications advice to senior Bureau staff and Representatives of Country Operations overseen by the Bureau.
- Oversee data and information gathering and sharing of information with a view to ensuring the Bureau's authority as a centre of up to date knowledge and expertise relating to its region.
- Assist the Senior Management of the Bureau to implement advocacy objectives for the Bureau, and oversee development of supporting communications strategies for these, working in conjunction with staff of the Global Communications Service and communications staff in the region.
- Ensure Bureau staff are aware of UNHCR's global positioning needs.

- Support the identification and management of risks and seek to seize opportunities impacting objectives in the area of responsibility. Ensure decision making in risk based in the functional area of work. Raise risks, issues and concerns to a supervisor or to relevant functional colleague(s).
- Perform other related duties as required.

Minimum Qualifications
Years of Experience / Degree Level
For P3/NOC - 6 years relevant experience with Undergraduate degree; or 5 years relevant experience with Graduate degree; or 4 years relevant experience with Doctorate degree

Field(s) of Education
Journalism; International Relations; Political Science;
Communications; Public Information; Media
Film / Video; or other relevant field.

Certificates and/or Licenses
not specified

Relevant Job Experience
Minimum 4years of professional experience in journalism and/or communications, mainly at international level.

Experience developing and implementing communications strategies. Strong social media presence. Experience working on advocacy campaigns. Experience working with goodwill ambassadors and other high-profile influencers. Experience with brand management. Experience with measurement and evaluation, especially providing analysis of media coverage, social media engagement, web traffic, etc. Experience reporting, writing, editing for magazines, newspapers and websites. Experience using digital asset management systems. Experience with digital analytics and performance reporting.

Functional Skills
Required skills will vary according to the precise nature of the role, location, etc. but may include:
CO-Drafting and Documentation
CO-International Media Contacts
CO-Preparation of key messages/talking points/speeches
CO-Spokesperson skills
CO-Strategic Communication
CO-Public Speaking
CO-Video production for digital platforms (including news organizations)
CO-Journalism (incl. print, broadcast, photography, video, layout & graphics)
CO-Digital content production
(Functional Skills marked with an asterisk* are essential)

Language Requirements
For International Professional and Field Service jobs: Knowledge of English and UN working language of the duty station if not English.
For National Professional jobs: Knowledge of English and UN working language of the duty station if not English and local language.
For General Service jobs: Knowledge of English and/or UN working language of the duty station if not English.

All UNHCR workforce members must individually and collectively, contribute towards a working environment where each person feels safe, and empowered to perform their duties. This includes by demonstrating no tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse, harassment including sexual harassment, sexism, gender inequality, discrimination and abuse of power.

As individuals and as managers, all must be proactive in preventing and responding to inappropriate conduct, support ongoing dialogue on these matters and speaking up and seeking guidance and support from relevant UNHCR resources when these issues arise.

This is a Standard Job Description for all UNHCR jobs with this job title and grade level. The Operational Context may contain additional essential and/or desirable qualifications relating to the specific operation and/or position. Any such requirements are incorporated by reference in this Job Description and will be considered for the screening, shortlisting and selection of candidates.

Desired Candidate Profile The Communications Officer is expected to strategically lead UNHCR’s media relations and external communications work, liaise with international and national media, and act as UNHCR’s spokesperson for the region. This will entail working closely with the Communications focal points in the country operations, Headquarters, and the other Bureaus in Africa.

S/he will develop regional external communications strategies and plans and develop external messaging. S/he will also lead and oversee the production of news outputs and multimedia content for external audiences, including media and contribute to news-driven and content to lead the narrative on forced displacement and show UNHCR’s impact in the region.

As the most senior Communications Officer for the Bureau, s/he will support the Director and the Bureau’s senior management team in external interviews and events.

Given that the External Engagement Pillar is results-driven and has an integrated strategy, involving all aspects of External Engagement, demonstrated experience in working in teams and strong collaboration skills is critical.

Excellent writing, editing, and analytical skills in English are required. Knowledge of French is desirable.

Required languages (expected Overall ability is at least B2 level):



Desired languagesFrench



Operational context

Occupational Safety and Health Considerations:

Nature of Position:

The Regional Bureau for Southern Africa in Pretoria covers 16 countries:
Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique , Namibia, Republic of the Congo, Seychelles, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe

The Southern Africa region has multiple media outlets in different languages and South Africa is a media hub for many international media agencies.

The Communication Officer oversees the Communications Unit, which forms part of the Bureau’s External Engagement Pillar. The incumbent is supervised by the Head of the External Engagement Pillar, and s/he supervises an Associate Communications Officer (NOB).

The Communication Officer works closely with all sections of the Regional Bureau and country offices in the region. The incumbent pursues to keep the general public and different stakeholders briefed on UNHCR 's news and views through circulating press releases, responding timely to media queries, pitching and providing interviews and working closely with HQ in preparation of global briefing notes and press releases on the Southern Africa region.

Incumbent pursues to nurture existing media contacts as well as to establish new personal and strategic relationships with key media outlets and journalists to improve UNHCR 's outreach and visibility in the region. To improve the quality and quantity of media reporting on UNHCR, incumbent organizes media training, facilitates media visits to UNHCR operations and undertakes media mapping.

Living and Working Conditions:

Pretoria is a city located in the northern part of Gauteng Province in South Africa. It is one of the country's two capital cities serving as the executive (administrative) and de facto national capital. The other is Cape Town, the legislative capital. The Central Business District (CBD) of Pretoria has been the traditional centre of government and commerce, although today many corporate offices, small businesses, shops and government departments are situated in the sprawling suburbs of the city rather than the CBD. The city has a population of approximately 1,985,997 with an influx of foreign nationals. Pretoria has over the years had very diverse cultural influences and this is reflected in the architectural styles that can be found in the city. The main languages spoken in Pretoria are Pedi, Afrikaans, Tswana, Tsonga, Zulu and English. Ndebele and Sotho are also widely spoken. The living class in Pretoria can be classified as middle to high income earners.

The living conditions in South Africa are generally very good. Housing and basic commodities are readily available. The country has an abundance of health providers of all sectors. The country's infrastructure and communication facilities are of international standard and are among the best in the African continent. Crime continues to be of concern. Burglaries (house break-ins) and car-jacking are common. ATM fraud is also rampant as well as cyber-crime - financial related.

Even though the position is based in Pretoria, s/he is expected to travel on missions to remote locations in the field, where the quality of life and working conditions would be challenged alongside with security concerns.

Additional Qualifications


EducationBachelor of Arts (BA): Communication, Bachelor of Arts (BA): International Relations, Bachelor of Arts (BA): Political Science, Bachelor of Arts (BA): Public Professions


Work Experience

CompetenciesAccountability, Analytical thinking, Client & results orientation, Commitment to continuous learning, Communication, Empowering & building trust, Innovation & creativity, Judgement & decision making, Leadership, Organizational awareness, Political awareness, Strategic planning & visions, Teamwork & collaboration

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Additional Information

Functional clearanceThis position requires Functional Clearance
Pretoria South Africa


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